Anti-Abortion Activists in Spain

Spain as we know is a conservative Catholic country. Yet in 1985 it decriminalized abortion in the case of rape, an abnormal fetus or harm to the physical or psychological health of the mother. In 2014  the law was widened to be abortion on demand for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.  In practice the law worked mainly for doctors working in private clinics, those  working in public hospitals often refused to perform the procedure.  The legality of abortion didn’t of course stop anti-abortion activists, including right to life groups there. 89% of women seeking an abortion reported that they had felt harassed and 66% felt they had been threatened. Now Spain has criminalized harassment or intimidation of women seeking an abortion.  It means that anti-abortion activists who try to convince women not to have abortions could face up to a year in jail.  The law applies mainly to protests outside abortion clinics but also to the harassment or intimidation of the health care professionals who work there.  The legislation was proposed by the prime minister who now plans to go further, making sure that public hospitals are able to practice abortion and also go still further, making it possible for 16- and 17-year-olds  to have an abortion without parental consent, something that is possible in France and the UK.

Abortion is a divisive issue in the United States, and the example of deeply religious countries is instructive and encouraging. When abortion is legal in countries like Spain and Mexico, it suggests that somehow, down the road, however far down, the right and freedom to choose in the United States will have to prevail.

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